Monday, Sept. 13, 2004 | 10:43 a.m.
Members of the Teamsters Local 631 returned to work today at the valley's convention centers after a weeklong strike seeking increased wages and health care benefits.
The union members' health care benefits were also reinstated today after a temporary freeze while they were on strike from Sept. 3 to Saturday.
The members ratified a new labor contract late Saturday with GES Exposition Services and Freeman Cos., which are the major general contractors for conventions and exhibitions.
The contract, which was approved by the members 734 in favor and 299 against, provides an additional $4.20 per hour over the three-year contract, said Milan Dobrijevich, Teamsters Local 631 business agent for the convention industry. The 3,200 workers affected by the contract will receive a $1 raise right away with 29 cents going toward wages and 71 cents toward health care benefits, he said.
Subsequent raises will be available every six months and this contract is the first time the union will be able to decide where the raises are applied, meaning to wages, pensions or health care, he said.
The Teamsters biggest demand when they rejected two contract proposals Sept. 3 was that GES, Freeman and a group of independent contractors were not providing enough of a raise to help with "health care costs that skyrocketed in the last three years," Dobrijevich said. The Sept. 3 contract proposal would have provided a raise of $2.50 per hour over three years.
A Teamsters-represented convention worker makes $21.86 per hour and works a varying number of hours per week.
"Even if I make $300, if I only work one hour per month or if I don't work, it doesn't mean diddly squat because you don't make any money," Dobrijevich said.
"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement that allows all of us to move forward for the benefit of the convention industry," Al Dyess, executive vice president of GES, said in a statement. "This agreement solidified our partnership with the Teamsters and collective commitment to delivering quality service to the Las Vegas tradeshow industry."
GES filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court Wednesday and a judge issued a temporary restraining order against the union that prevented it from picketing in a way that interfered with the ability to conduct business.
There has been no camera footage provided to support those allegations despite cameras being common during the picketing, Dobrijevich said.
The Teamsters does have to sort out some issues with the campus police at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas because of some fights that broke out between union members and campus officers, Dobrijevich said.